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Rune NyordAssociate Professor


  • Ph.D., University of Copenhagen, 2010


Rune Nyord is Associate Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Emory University. Before joining Emory in 2018, he held positions at the University of Copenhagen, University of Cambridge (Christ's College), and the Free University Berlin. His research focuses on conceptions and experiences of representation, ontology, and personhood in ancient Egypt, especially as evidenced in Middle Kingdom (Middle Bronze Age, early 2nd millennium BCE) funerary culture, and drawing on a combination of archaeological and textual sources. He is also interested in the history of the discipline of Egyptology and ways in which it continues to influence contemporary practices and interpretations.

Research Interests

  • Ancient Egyptian mortuary religion and funerary culture
  • Ancient Egyptian conceptions and experiences of images, conceptions of personhood and the body
  • Anthropological and cognitive approaches to ancient material culture and texts
  • History of Egyptology, especially the history of interpretations of Egyptian religion

Selected Publications


Seeing Perfection: Ancient Egyptian Images beyond Representation

Seeing Perfection: Ancient Egyptian Images beyond Representation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Breathing Flesh

Breathing Flesh: Conceptions of the Body in the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, CNI Publications no. 37, 2009)

Edited Volumes

Concepts in Middle Kingdom Funerary Culture

Concepts in Middle Kingdom Funerary Culture [Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, volume 102], ed. Rune Nyord (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2019)

Egyptology and AnthropologyEgyptology and Anthropology. Historiography, Theoretical Exchange and Conceptual Development: Proceedings of the Lady Wallis Budge Symposium held at the University of Cambridge, 25-26 July 2017, eds. Kathryn Howley and Rune Nyord (Tucson: University of Arizona, 2018)
Special issue of the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, no. 17. Open Access at:
Lotus and LaurelLotus and Laurel. Studies in Egyptian Language and Religion in Honour of Paul John Frandseneds. Rune Nyord and Kim Ryhold (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, CNI Publications no. 39, 2015)
Being in Ancient Egypt

Being in Ancient Egypt. Thoughts on Agency, Materiality, and Cognition: Proceedings of the seminar held in Copenhagen, September 29-30 2006, eds. Rune Nyord and Annete Kjølby (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2009), British Archaeological Reports International Series, 2019. 


Recent Articles and Book Chapters

“Like birds of passage," in Ancient Egypt: Obsessed with Life, ed. O. Herslund (Aarhus: Moesgaard Museum, 2023), pp. 62-75

"The good burial," in Life and the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Art from the Sunusret Collection, ed. M. Hartwig (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2023), pp. 31-34

"Ancient Egypt," in Comparative Guts (online exhibition), eds. C. Thumiger and A. Messner (Kiel: University of Kiel, 2023)

"From Crypt to Cult: Pyramid Texts on Middle Kingdom Stelae," Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 51 (2022): pp. 191-204

"The Letter to Nebetitef on her First Intermediate Period Stela in the Michael C. Carlos Museum," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 107 (2021): pp. 3-19

"Motile mythologies. (Re)constituting ancient Egyptian ritual knowledge in the early 2nd millennium BCE," in Wissensoikonomien: Ordnung und Transgression in vormodernen Kulturen, eds. G. Ullmann, N. Pissis, and N. Schmidt (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2021), pp. 199-210

"Post til en afdød: Nebetitefs genfundne brev [Mail for a deceased person: The rediscovered letter to Nebetitef]," Papyrus: Ægyptologisk Tidsskrift 41, no. 1 (2021): 22-29

(older works available on

Current Projects

Rune Nyord recently completed a book tracing the history of interpretations of the ancient Egyptian afterlife. Arguing that important details of this framework stem more from early modern and 19th-century expectations than from ancient Egyptian sources, the book is scheduled to appear with the University of Chicago Press in early 2025.

Based on this historiographic critique and inspired by recent work on ontology and personhood in social anthropology and archaeology, his current book project explores the possibility of deriving alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding Egyptian mortuary religion from the ancient sources themselves.

Recent Seminar Topics

The Discovery of the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife; Conceptions and Experiences of Ancient Egyptian Images; Art and Ritual in the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead; Perfection and Transformation: Funerary Culture in Ancient Egypt, c. 2000 BCE